Royal Worcester was established in 1751 and is believed to be the oldest or second oldest remaining English porcelain brand still in existence today (this is disputed by Royal Crown Derby, which claims 1750 as its year of establishment). Part of the Portmeirion Group since 2009, Royal Worcester remains in the luxury tableware and giftware market, although production in Worcester itself has ended.
Technically, the Worcester Royal Porcelain Co. Ltd. (known as Royal Worcester) was formed in 1862, and wares produced before that time are known as Worcester porcelain, although the company had a royal warrant from 1788. The enterprise has followed the pattern of other leading English porcelain brands, with increasing success during the 18th and 19th centuries, then a gradual decline during the 20th century, especially the latter half.
In the 20th century, Royal Worcester’s most popular pattern has been “Evesham Gold”, first offered in 1961, depicting the autumnal fruits of the Vale of Evesham with fine gold banding on an “oven to table” body.
Freda Doughty ( 1895 – 1972 )
In the early 1930s Royal Worcester was on the brink of ruin. But a rescue package was at hand and Charles Dyson Perrins bought the company, supplementing the worker’s wages out of his own pocket until the business was out of danger. A new group of modellers– nearly all of them women – were brought in to enliven Royal Worcester’s range. One of the Directors of Royal Worcester was staying with Freda’s cousin and on seeing examples of Freda’s work he asked her to make something to submit to Worcester. Her first four models of children were an immediate success and led to a long and fruitful partnership.
It was Freda’s children that really saved the day and brought Royal Worcester into the market of affordable figurines. A little girl in a long dress called ‘Grandmother’s Dress’ and her partner ‘Boy with a Parakeet’ were so enduringly popular that many factory workers still claim that, in the tricky years of the 1950s, this girl and boy almost single-handedly kept the factory open.
Freda designed over 100 models, most of which were very popular. Her figures were modelled from children who used to play in the garden of her home in Kent that she shared with her elder sister Dorothy. In later years the two sisters moved to a cottage near Falmouth. Freda died in 1972.